Who Can Be Sued In An Accident Involving Commercial Trucks?
The commercial motor vehicle industry is a large economy in the United States that involves various parties. The American Trucking Association estimates that 5.7 million commercial trailers were registered in 2009. With this substantial number of commercial motor vehicles, however, also comes a great number of vehicular accidents. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that 3,660 fatalities due to large truck collisions in 2015. When accident victims decide to pursue damages against the parties responsible for commercial motor vehicle accidents, it can be difficult to determine which parties should be held liable. This response will list and describe the various parties that might be held accountable for accidents involving commercial motor vehicles.
- The Cargo Owner. When cargo is improperly loaded or restrained, the company who owns the cargo might be found liable for the commercial motor vehicle accident.
- Government Authorities. The municipality, state, or other regional organization where the commercial motor vehicle accident occurred may be found liable for the accident through failure to properly maintain signs or fix poor road conditions. Government authorities might have also designed roads in a way that leads to accidents or used defective guardrails to prevent vehicles from going off the road. Liability for government authorities, however, is often difficult to establish because these agencies hold immunity for many types of vehicle accidents.
- Insurance Company. Any insurance company who is responsible for allowing a dangerous commercial motor vehicle driver to operate a commercial vehicle can be held accountable as a party liable for the accident.
- Maintenance Workers. Individuals who were tasked with maintaining the commercial motor vehicle might also be held liable for the truck accident if the party was reckless or negligent in maintaining the commercial motor vehicle.
- Part Manufacturer. The manufacturer of the truck or various component that comprise the truck can be held liable where defective parts cause the commercial motor vehicle to be involved in an accident. Some of the most frequently defective parts on commercial motor vehicles include axles, brakes, gears, and tires. If a manufacturer negligently or intentionally sold a defective commercial motor vehicle part and failed to provide the necessary warning, the company can be held liable for the accident.
- The Rig and Trailer Owner. Separate third parties might own the rig and the trailer.
- The Shipper. The party who was tasked with loading and unloading the cargo might have violated various laws regarding the transportation of cargo. This group might be different from the party that actually owns the cargo or the commercial motor vehicle.
- Trucking Company. The company that employs the driver operates the commercial motor vehicle can be held liable for the driver’s negligent driving. The trucking company can also be accountable for a variety of negligent practices including hiring, training, or supervising the truck driver because it might very well be the case that the trucking company should have been aware that the driver was engaging in dangerous driving techniques. A trucking company might have even hired unlicensed or unqualified commercial truck drivers or encouraged truck drivers to violate various rules concerning commercial motor vehicles to ensure that cargo arrives at destinations in a shorter amount of time. An experienced lawyer will be able to obtain information that can potentially demonstrate that the trucking company is liable for the truck driver’s actions. Not to mention, the trucking company can be held liable for failing to properly maintain the truck or not sufficiently monitoring the driver’s operation of the vehicle.
- Truck Driver. A truck driver is tasked with the responsibility of driving safely on the road which means obeying all posted signs, keep accurate and up to date driving logs, and performing required routine inspection of the commercial motor vehicle. It should be noted that drivers are legally required to inspect commercial motor vehicles for noticeable problems. Drivers should be particularly aware of the conditions of a commercial motor vehicle’s tires, which can result in blow outs that can cause a number of different types of serious accidents. A driver might have also failed to properly secure the cargo being transported by the vehicle. A truck driver might even be liable for drug or alcohol use, fatigue, or various other factors that directly caused the motor vehicle accident. When truck drivers fail to obey these tasks, truck drivers can be held liable for failure to properly operate a commercial motor vehicle.
- The Truck Owner. The trucking company might lease the truck from a third party, who can also be held liable for the commercial motor vehicle accident.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a commercial truck accident, contact our law firm. Call 409-838-1000 or email our lawyers to schedule your free initial consultation